Commodore Vadim Darwin had hurried to the Manheim 's bridge- little more than an oversized cockpit- as quickly as he could. His entrance was so sudden, the pit crew nary had a chance to salute before he barked orders over the battle sirens.
"Mr. Tek, what the hell's going on?"
The Sensor/Comm officer looked up from his interface. "The Salrilian Carrier S.N.S. Silent Grace has brought up it's defence fields and is charging it's Bolt-rod."
On the screen, the enormous capacitor that made up the upper-half of the Salrilian Carrier began to fizzle.
"Can we escape?"
"No, sir, we can't maintain an FTL field in this region of space."
"Raise ours and divert power to magnet control, Mr. Dietz."
"Aye sir." The weapons officer pulled back several levers on his interface. The Battle-sirens dropped an octave, indicating the ship was ready for combat. "Sir," he grabbed the Commodore's attention, "If we fire a full volley at that dome," indicating the capacitor, "we might be able to delay the salrillians to break free."
"Good idea," The commodore acknowledged, "but, break free to where?"
"Sir, the Salrilians must have called the Audemedons into the system. I'm reading Audemedon FTL traces all over the system."
The Commodore swore under his breath "So, get your sentinels to do your own dirty work for you, eh, worms?"
Harthus gave a flap of resignation. Foolish humans. So innocent, so naive. How she wished she could back to the olden days when she too was like that.
Bracing herself for the inevitable, she gave the order to fire.
The white bolt of electrons shot out from the carrier in the general direction of the UNS Manheim , shot right past it and disappeared into the plasma-clouds that made up the Salrilian Badlands, out of range of the humans' sensors.
Vadim was shocked. The dreaded Trans-Spacial Bolt had zapped right past and out of sight. What in the name of Doz was going on? What were the salrilians doing?
Moments later, the Manheim picked up an explosion where the Bolt had lanced into the badlands. Then it became clear: The Salrilians aen't shooting at us...
The UNS crew watched in horror as the Audemedon wing closed in on the Manheim , only to pass the frigate, heading for the Carrier.
Violet flame streaked out from the Orange cruisers, shattering the Carrier's defensive shield almost instantly, boiling away layers of the thin black hull.
Then, it was over as soon as it began. Having judged sufficiant damage inflicted, the Audemedons regrouped, and jumped from the system.
"Sir, our tech's estimate the Silent Grace 's interphasic drives have a 99.99978% of going critical in the next hour."
The Commodore looked, astonished, at the screen. He had seen wrecked carriers before, during the Ares War, but never had he seen what he had just seen before.
There it was, burning and twisting, several kilometers off to port. Proof that Salril's time had come.
"Prepare a boarding party. Before we abandon that wreck, I want to get some answers from it first."
The Airlock hissed open, flooding the compartment with the Chlorine Gas the salrilians so liked to breathe. The whole ship was dark, save for the plasma-fires burning from power stations and conduits. The ship was dying, fast, and Darwin knew he and his EVAT team had to move quickly.
The Carrier's ArGrav had failed in some areas, and the team had to avoid the floating corpses and debris, the quivering globules of dark-crimson blood. They entered the command dome, illuminating the Area with Flares.
There she was, bathed in teal blood, pinned under a bulkhead, looking completely lifeless. As the Commodore stepped up, the Salrilian's one huge eye upturned to meet him.
"You have taken your own sweet time, mankind. The hour has come for you to ascend, for only you can stop the chain of events that has been set into place." She rasped, forming bubbles in the collective pool of mixed blood.
Darwin cocked his eyebrow. Clearly the mad ramblings of a dying alien. "What the hell happenned today?" He queried.
"Audemed served us a terrible reparation." The Salrilian Gasped, choking on it's own dislodged organs. Darwin eyed the Tremendous iron beam that pinned the worm to the deck. He dared not move the beam, as it's weight was likely the only thing holding her together. The Salrilian gurgled on, "He has broken free from his chains, and has fled known space, leaving a wake of unimaginable destruction in his path.
"I am beyond saving, human, as is Salril. My race is doomed, but there is yet time for humans to make a difference, to stop the Cantharans from doing that which the constructs murdered their creators for nearly doing."
"Constructs?" Vadim tilted his head. "You mean the Audemedons?"
"Audemed is one of the two constructs built by the extinct demi-god race we call the Grolk. After Audemed and his brother destroyed their makers, the galaxy was a secure place again. They both stayed behind as guardians of the universe. We, in our foolish early stages of development, enslaved Audemed when we encountered him.
"But we never found the second construct." the Salrilian's breathing was slowing and her eye glazed over. The last few seconds of her life were approaching.
Vadim pressed on. He had to learn whatever secrets the worm knew on the constructs and the cantharans. "No, not yet! Tell me what to do!"
With dwindling breath, she panted. "Answers. Thasero. Be swift."
With that, the glow faded from the Salrilian's eyes.